One of the biggest political puzzles of the day pertains to Dr Keith Rowley. Would Rowley campaign nationally or would he concentrate his efforts at Diego Martin West?
And, since we are at it, let's ask some related questions. What message would the People's National Movement–and Dr Rowley, too–send if he does not mount a national stage and exalt and defend his party? If he does take to the national platform, how would he rationalise his advocacy of PNM against his previous stinging denouncements. Let's examine some choice Rowley quotes. Speaking in Parliament last October 19, he slammed: "Today every schoolchild knows there is something called Udecott and it smells to high heavens." He said that since August 2003, he had told Prime Minister Patrick Manning "that there was bid-rigging taking place in Udecott." He said he had provided evidence in detail. "What does the Prime Minister do? Slander me and put up a defence for Calder Hart and his wife." Rowley alleged that what had taken place at Udecott "is ten times worse than what happened with Piarco International Airport." He drew a link between Udecott and Johnny O'Halloran, the latter being the corruption bane of the PNM. Five days earlier, again in Parliament, he chided the Government on the Petrotrin upgrade, which, he said, was costing $9.3 billion.
He intoned: "We have to digest that in the context of 'de money done.' "We are now talking about raising revenue by taxation 'chirrup chirrup', household by household, land and building taxes, cigarette and rum taxes, as revenue-raising measures. Do not be fooled by that." At the height of the impasse, there have been high-profile conflicts, most notably with Dr Emily Gaynor Dick-Forde and, to a lesser extent, with long-time political buddy, Colm Imbert. Manning, too, offered several rejoinders, at one time linking Rowley with an alleged sinister opposition campaign to oust him and his administration. Rowley dutifully denied the claim, and asked the Prime Minister what potion he was imbibing. The ugly reality is that the Rowley was a source of major irritation to his party leader, who had fired him for alleged unbecoming behaviour at a closed-door meeting.
There were reports that the PNM had briefly considered disciplinary action against the parliamentary firebrand. Indeed, prominent PNMites–ANR Robinson and Karl Hudson-Phillips–have parted ways with the party for lesser discord. But the PNM times have changed and Rowley is not a politician to sneeze at, anyway. Oratory skills aside, he is tough-as-nails, resourceful and is seen by some as the ideal figure to take the PNM baton forward. That brings us back to our original questions. Would there be rapprochement between Manning and Rowley for the larger party good in what is shaping up to be a close election battle? If they do kiss and make up, would their respective credibility be sullied? Do they still share common ground on governance? The answers would come before long.
�2 See related coverage on
CNC3's nightly newscast and
on the Early Morning Show.